Immigration reform urged

John Harold, who grows corn in Olathe, said he favors a provision of a U.S. Senate measure that would allow farmers to make three-year arrangements with foreign workers, who could travel to the United States with their families.



Voters in Colorado and across the United States want changes to the nation’s immigration system, even if they also believe the existing system is being misused, Club 20 leaders and others said Wednesday.

“We believe it’s imperative that we have a system that allows workers to be in this country legally,” said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20, the West Slope lobbying and advocacy organization, in a conference call with West Slope reporters.

For a farmer who is eyeing his fast-ripening sweet corn, the stakes are immediate

John Harold, of Tuxedo Farms in Olathe, said nature has dictated that his Olathe Sweet Corn crop be harvested beginning July 20 or 21.

“The problem is, my labor’s not here,” Harold said.

That’s a result of Congress’ inability to pass an immigration measure, leaving him — and other farmers — hanging, Harold said.

He struck a deal via U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that will likely make it possible for him to harvest, Harold said.

“But why as a taxpayer should I have to go to my senator’s office to get a bureaucrat to do their job?” Harold said.

Harold’s major complaint involved the H2A program, which would be replaced in a measure passed by the Senate with a program that would allow farmers like Harold to make three-year arrangements with foreign workers, who could travel to the United States with their families.

“It’s just better for everyone,” Harold said.

The House, however, hasn’t put the Senate measure to a vote.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., has made border security a necessary first step in immigration reform, his office said.

Tipton’s 3rd Congressional District was targeted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, which surveyed 1,000 voters nationally between June 24 and 28. Harper Polling Inc. conducted polling in individual states between June 2 and July 3 with sample sizes ranging from 500 to 855. The margins of error range from 4.0 to 4.38 percent.

Key in Colorado, Petersen said, was the finding that 62 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of unaffiliated voters would support an immigration reform plan “that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes.”

The poll was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, Business Roundtable, the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Western Growers.

The survey also found that 89 percent of respondents said the immigration system was in need of repair and 65 percent said the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Nationally, 72 percent said no when asked whether the Obama administration’s enforcement of existing laws “was a reason not to fix the problems that exist within current laws. Is that concern a valid reason for Congress not to act?”

Thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border weighs heavily on immigration issues, said Club 20 Chairman Les Mergelman.

Congressional direction is needed to decide how those minors should be handled, Mergelman said.

“We’re a natural magnet for immigration,” Mergelman said, adding that the nation must decide how to deal with it.

DENVER — A Colorado judge on Wednesday struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, making him the 16th judge to invalidate a state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages in the past year.

District Judge C. Scott Crabtree put his ruling on hold pending an appeal, but wrote that the provisions in Colorado law clearly violate the state and U.S. constitutions. “There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans,” he wrote.

The decision came in two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s law, which was passed by voters in 2006.

The ruling will be appealed by Attorney General John Suthers’ office, which defended the ban. The case is the 16th in a row in which a state ban was voided by a judge following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Every time we find the constitution protects individuals, it is a victory for everybody,” said John McHugh, who argued the case for the plaintiffs and said they will try to ensure appeals go directly to the Colorado Supreme Court. “We will do everything we can do to fast-track this and get marriage licenses issued in every county in Colorado.”

Kris McDaniel-Miccio, one of the 18 plaintiffs in the case and a law professor at the University of Denver, said she had anticipated a favorable ruling but was still ecstatic.

“It’s validation,” she said. “I have wanted this validation my whole life.”

In a separate challenge to a gay marriage ban in Utah, a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry. On Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office announced it will appeal that decision directly to the nation’s highest court.

The 10th Circuit covers Colorado and five other states. Its gay marriage ruling also is on hold pending appeal.

The Colorado attorney general’s office on Wednesday urged a judge in Boulder to forbid the clerk in that county from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing the licenses after the 10th Circuit panel ruled two weeks ago, despite the legal stay on that decision. Hall argues the appellate ruling already legalized gay marriage in Colorado.

In a statement released after the Crabtree ruling, Suthers said the issue will remain unsettled until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in. He and the state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, have already asked a federal court to freeze all state-level gay marriage litigation until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of same-sex marriage ban.

“While the legal debate regarding same-sex marriage continues, and many find the legal process frustrating, adherence to the rule of law will bring about the final resolution with the greatest certainty and legal legitimacy,” Suthers said.


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Today’s timely report by Gary Harmon – “Immigration reform urged” – aptly captures the profound disconnect between what Western Colorado citizens want and need versus what “Tea Party” Congressman Scott Tipton ineptly and disingenuously “believes”.

Similarly, in yesterday’s edition of Mother Jones on-line magazine, Kevin Drum’s “Yet Another Day in Republican Scumbaggery” (i.e., “underhanded and otherwise despicable behavior”) accurately described Republicans’ refusal to appropriate adequate funds to deal with the current humanitarian crisis.

Moreover, one local “scumbag”—in on-line comments opposing any immigration reform—justified his despicable racist rants against President Obama by citing Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to blame the President for the current situation. 

Of course, Article I, Section 8, explicitly delegates to Congress – not the President – the power (and thus responsibility) to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” (which necessarily includes border security) and “to provide for an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (which necessarily includes immigration policy).

Nevertheless, “scumbag Scott” evades that responsibility by making “border security a necessary first step in immigration reform” – even though President Obama has already taken that “first step” by fielding more Border Patrol agents and deporting more illegal entrants than any previous administration.  Moreover, the current crisis proves that few if any unaccompanied minors are avoiding apprehension and detention.

Moreover, the scumbag Speaker of the House evades congressional responsibility for the current humanitarian crisis (by, in 2008, prohibiting the immediate deportation of non-Mexican minors) – now insisting instead that our borders must be “sealed”.

Even Texas’s scumbag Republican Governor and “Tea Party” congressional delegation know that Boehner’s pronouncement is nonsensical—because the economy of Texas depends on the cheap labor provided by undocumented immigrants.

Thus, our current immigration policy is being dictated by scumbags, who like things just the way they are.

“We believe it’s imperative that we have a system that allows workers to be in this country legally,”

There already is a system, it includes H2-a & H2-b non-Immigrant visas. I am sure a revised guest worker system could be passed if they didn’t insist on attaching some sort of mass amnesty to the bill every time. We have tried this approach in the past and it only results in higher illegal immigration numbers.

The recent surge at our southern border is further proof that we need enforcement before anything else. As long as they are told they will get to stay if they sneak across the border they will continue to do so.

Annette Helgelien’s comment raises several important points regarding comprehensive immigration reform – codified in S.744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” (passed by the Senate with 14 Republican votes last June but still not even considered by the House), but reveals her unfamiliarity with the specifics of S.744.

Thus, first, while “it’s imperative that we have a system that allows workers to be in this country legally”, S.744 distinguishes between the millions of such workers who are already here illegally and those who might seek to enter illegally in the future.

As to the latter, no one is satisfied with the present H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant visa program – because it is excessively bureaucratic, inflexible, and ties a nonimmigrant worker to a particular sponsoring employer for a specific period of time (less than one year), thereby subjecting the nonimmigrant worker to exploitation.

S.744’s new “W” agricultural visa program allows nonimmigrant workers to remain in the U.S. for up to six years (initially three, renewable for three more) while working for any employer approved by the Department of Agriculture—thereby allowing agricultural employers to better plan the hiring of sufficient workers from year-to-year and allowing seasonal workers to move from employer to employer as crops are ready for harvest.

As to the former, there is no “mass amnesty” attached to S.744 – because no one is being “pardoned” for the misdemeanor and civil offense of “unlawful entry into the U.S.”

Under S.744, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of December 31, 2011, may apply for “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (“RPI”) – if they have not been convicted of a felony (or three misdemeanors), pass a background check, and pay application fees and a $1000 fine (which may be paid in installments), but remain ineligible for Medicaid, food stamps, ACA health care, and Social Security credit for previous illegal employment.

Thus, “RPI” status is not “amnesty” or a pardon for entering illegally, but rather induces undocumented immigrants to self-identify themselves—by suspending the threat of deportation, conditioned on continued employment and good behavior.

Finally, “the recent surge at our southern border” proves that enforcement – at least as to refugee children (who do not “sneak” across the border, but rather cross openly seeking someone to surrender to) – is more than adequate.  In 2008, Congress passed the law that allows unaccompanied non-Mexican children to remain n the U.S. while their status is being adjudicated.  What we lack is sufficient resources to timely comply with that law.

Nevertheless, S.744 would add 20,000 more Border Patrol agents (a 100% increase) and spend up to $43 billion on 700 miles of border fencing and surveillance equipment.

“Thus, first, while “it’s imperative that we have a system that allows workers to be in this country legally”, S.744 distinguishes between the millions of such workers who are already here illegally and those who might seek to enter illegally in the future.”

So did Simpson Mazzoli, but it didn’t do much good either.

“As to the former, there is no “mass amnesty” attached to S.744 – because no one is being “pardoned” for the misdemeanor and civil offense of “unlawful entry into the U.S.”

No, they may be required to pay a “small” fine for their misdeeds. If they are not satisfied with the answer DHS gives them they can request a review. If they are still not satisfied they can seek a judicial review or file a lawsuit against the government.

So to be accurate it’s an amnesty with a fee.

“no one is satisfied with the present H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant visa program – because it is excessively bureaucratic, inflexible, and ties a nonimmigrant worker to a particular sponsoring employer for a specific period of time (less than one year), thereby subjecting the nonimmigrant worker to exploitation.”

And as I stated few people have an issue with an updated guest worker program, the problem comes with the amnesty. If they were truly serious about immigration reform they would push a bill with only the new visa program for now and iron out the other details later.

“Thus, “RPI” status is not “amnesty” or a pardon for entering illegally, but rather induces undocumented immigrants to self-identify themselves—by suspending the threat of deportation, conditioned on continued employment and good behavior.”

So pretty much a conditional amnesty.

“Finally, “the recent surge at our southern border” proves that enforcement – at least as to refugee children (who do not “sneak” across the border, but rather cross openly seeking someone to surrender to)”

Why wouldn’t they surrender? They have been told by our current administration they will not be deported unless they have a record of violent crimes.

“Nevertheless, S.744 would add 20,000 more Border Patrol agents (a 100% increase) and spend up to $43 billion on 700 miles of border fencing and surveillance equipment.”

The additional border patrol means almost nothing if we continue the practice of not deporting those here illegally. The amendment by Patrick Leahy removed the minimum requirement for a border fence. So in reality they could install no additional border fence and still be within the law. 

This is just another Simpson Mazzoli bill. Until I see a bill that requires enforcement first I will continue to fight it as most others are.

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